Microsoft Word – adding a watermark to a document

Posted: March 26, 2014

Adding a watermark to a document assists greatly in making it very obvious to the reader that the document has a special condition or status.

For example, adding a “Draft” watermark to a legal Agreement or Deed document makes it obvious to the reader that this isn’t the final copy of the document .

Microsoft Word – adding a watermark to a document

Word watermarks appear as “ghosted” text behind the actual document text.

Use watermarks to brand a document as “Confidential”, “Draft”, “Sample” or if you like you can even create a custom watermark.

To insert a Watermark:

  1. Click the Page Layout tab.

2. Word 2010: From the Page Background group click the Watermark drop-down arrow.
Word 2013 & Word 2016: From the Design group click the Watermark drop-down arrow

3. Select a suitable Watermark from the list, or click Custom Watermark and create a Watermark more suitable to your needs.

In the example below a Text watermark has been selected and the word ‘DRAFT’ has been selected from the drop-down list. If the word or words you require for your watermark aren’t in the list just type them straight into the Text box.

draft watermark word

4. Click OK.


Working with watermarks

Please be aware that once a watermark has been inserted into a document it is in fact anchored to the Header and/or Footer area. Therefore you need to take care when editing in these areas.

In the example below a small anchor indicates the paragraph within the header that the “DRAFT” watermark is linked to.

watermarks word

This anchor is only shown when you are in the Header area and have clicked on to the watermark to select it. You must also have the Show/Hide characters button on the Home tab turned on.

show hide character button word

If you were to delete this paragraph you would then delete the watermark.

To avoid this please avoid deleting the paragraph marker and only delete the text before the marker.

You will see in the example below that the word “Confidential” has been selected but the paragraph marker has not. Pressing DELETE would remove the text but leave the watermark in place.

watermark word 2


Removing a watermark from a Word document

To remove a Watermark on the Page Layout tab click the Watermark drop-down arrow and then select Remove Watermark.

Note: Be aware that Watermarks are in fact WordArt objects inserted into the Header of the document.   This may cause problems if you already have existing header text or illustrations in the Header so be sure to save your work before you attempt to insert a Watermark.  Fortunately Undo will undo inserting a Watermark.

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